It will be up to the Evans Middle School football team to stop the Greenbrier Middle School Wolfpack's run to a perfect record.
Greenbrier beat Riverside Middle School 28-0 Tuesday at the Brierpatch, which improved the Pack's record to 5-0, including four straight shutouts.
Shad Harris led the Pack with 162 yards rushing and three touchdowns, while the Greenbrier defensive line of Tanner White, LaShawn Butler, Jordan Tejeda and Andrew Gaskins shut down the Eagles.
''We had 261 yards of rushing, which I was pleased with, and Shad Harris has really come on strong," Greenbrier coach Jody Hilley said. ''It was a good defensive effort all the way around."
Meanwhile, at Evans Middle School Tuesday, the Knights outlasted Harlem Middle School 30-22 in an offensive battle. Shon Simmons and Jason Ayers each scored a pair of TD's for Evans.
''Neither team could stop the other. Harlem's got a lot of speed," Evans coach Carter Morris said. ''We ran a Power-I inside the tackles and did a good job of controlling the ball."
Evans improved its record to 3-2, and due to a prearranged allotment of home games for Columbia County's middle school football squads, the Knights will play host to Greenbrier this Tuesday at 5 p.m. Harlem (2-3) will be at Columbia Middle (0-4-1).
The six-game schedule includes a to-be-announced game to close the season. The finale is arranged by records, and normally would pit the two top teams; but in order for all the county teams to have three home games each in 2001, Evans, Riverside and Columbia middle schools are slated to finish at home.
That leaves Lakeside Middle School out of the running for the unofficial middle school championship.
Behind two touchdowns from tailback Shawn Maw, and strong defensive play by Baron Josey and Anthony Taylor, the Panthers topped Columbia Middle School 12-0 Tuesday at Panther Stadium, giving Lakeside its fourth straight win.
Lakeside's lone loss, however, was an 8-6 season-opening defeat at Greenbrier.
With the Pack entering the final game at 5-0, and with the Panthers at 4-1, Greenbrier already can claim Columbia County bragging rights, regardless of the outcomes this week.
But that doesn't mean Lakeside will coast through Tuesday's 5 p.m. contest against Riverside (0-4-1) at the Brierpatch.
''The goal is to win games," Lakeside coach Dave Pitock said. ''I think everybody likes to see the two top teams play, but I don't know if that's the best thing put the emphasis on. It's not the world championship, it's middle school football."
And in Columbia County, middle school football means something.
As Lakeside was capping its win over Columbia, the stadium announcer intoned, ''Lakeside has won four in a row, and that puts us in the unofficial championship game next Tuesday." Then the announcer quickly added, ''I've been told there is no official championship game. But it's official to us."
Obviously, Greenbrier Middle would say its official. The Pack is bidding to complete the first unbeaten and untied middle school football season since Evans Middle achieved the feat in 1997.
Coach Hilley thinks the Knights are capable of being the spoiler this week.
''I guarantee you Evans will give us all we want," he said. ''They're going to try and keep us from having a perfect record, and right now, Evans is playing as good as anybody. It should be an exciting football game."
Evans Middle also could be boosted by its homecoming crowd. Another incentive is to seal a comeback season - the Knights were 0-6 last year, and can close at 4-2 by beating Greenbrier.
''The players are very pleased with the season. They've responded to what we've asked them to do. We're trying to motivate them for Greenbrier, and hopefully they'll respond in the last game," coach Morris said.
Evans also has a revenge motive: the Pack pounded the Knights 32-0 earlier this season.
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